Arch of Galerius and Rotunda

Thessaloniki, Greece

The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda are neighbouring early 4th-century AD monuments in Thessaloniki.

The 4th-century Roman emperor Galerius commissioned these two structures as elements of an imperial precinct linked to his Thessaloniki palace. Archeologists have found substantial remains of the palace to the southwest. These three monumental structures were connected by a road that ran through the arch, which rose above the major east–west road of the city.

Arch of Galerius

The Arch of Galerius was built in 298 to 299 AD and dedicated in 303 AD to celebrate the victory of the tetrarch Galerius over the Sassanid Persians at the Battle of Satala and capture of their capital Ctesiphon in 298. Only the northwestern three of the eight pillars and parts of the masonry cores of the arches above survive.

Rotunda of Galerius

The Rotunda is a cylindrical structure built in 306 AD on the orders of the Galerius, who was thought to have intended it to be his mausoleum.

The Rotunda has a diameter of 24.5 m. Its walls are more than 6 m thick, which is why it has withstood Thessaloniki's earthquakes. The walls are interrupted by eight rectangular bays, with the west bay forming the entrance. A flat brick dome, 30 m high at the peak, crowns the cylindrical structure. In its original design, the dome of the Rotunda had an oculus, as does the Pantheon in Rome.

After Galerius's death in 311, he was buried at Gamzigrad near Zajecar, Serbia. The Rotunda stood empty for several decades until the Emperor Theodosius I ordered its conversion into a Christian church in the late fourth century. The church was embellished with very high quality mosaics. Only fragments have survived of the original decoration, for example, a band depicting saints with hands raised in prayer, in front of complex architectural fantasies.

The building was used as a church (Church of Asomaton or Archangelon) for over 1,200 years until the city fell to the Ottomans. In 1590 it was converted into a mosque, called the Mosque of Suleyman Hortaji Effendi, and a minaret was added to the structure. It was used as a mosque until 1912, when the Greeks captured the city during the Balkan War. Greek Orthodox officials reconsecrated the structure as a church, and they left the minaret. The structure was damaged during an earthquake in 1978 but was subsequently restored. As of 2004, the minaret was still being stabilized with scaffolding. The building is now a historical monument under the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture, although the Greek Orthodox Church has access to the monument for various festivities some days of the year.

The Rotunda is the oldest of Thessaloniki's churches. Some Greek publications claim it is the oldest Christian church in the world, although there are competitors for that title. It is the most important surviving example of a church from the early Christian period of the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 298-306 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

ivan harlanov (9 months ago)
One of the coolest places in Thessaloniki. Definitely one of the thing you need to see when you come to the city center. You can take one beverage from many stores that is around it and take a rest near to the ark and enjoy the view
Shemeck Romanowski (9 months ago)
Rotonda is very interesting.
May Lai Movix (9 months ago)
A historic meeting point for locals.
Billy Goumenos (10 months ago)
A great monument worth seeing with many places to enjoy your coffee or meal near it.
George Papadopoulos (10 months ago)
Classic meeting place for the locals and everyone visiting. Either for shopping or a night out in the city the arch of Galerius makes for a convenient spot to meet with your partners in crime
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Angelokastro

Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.

Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.

The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.

During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.

The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.

From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.

The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.

Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.